What My Father Gave Me
Ever since I can remember, I have been my father’s princess. He has always treated me like one, making me feel special every single day and spoiling me with love and attention.
My earliest memories are of my father helping me get ready for school by wiping my nose, tying my shoelaces and brushing my hair. In order to keep the last task easy, he insisted on my hair being short all through elementary school. Every day, as he straightened the collar of my school shirt, he would look into my eyes and tell me how special I was to him and how I made him and my mother proud. I was only seven, but somehow I made him proud. I never questioned how or why. With his love, he made me confident.
I remember waking up on weekend mornings and crawling into my parents’ bed to snuggle with my father. I remember putting my head on his chest and feeling incredibly happy. I remember going for walks with him where he would share stories of his childhood and listen to my dreams. No matter how improbable my dreams were (I vacillated for a while between wanting to be either an astronaut or the Prime Minister), he humored and encouraged me by listening to them.
I remember him rushing home from work to be by my side whenever I fell sick. He would make me laugh by ordering the flu, in his sternest voice, to leave me immediately. He taught me that even in tough situations, seeing things on the lighter side can make you feel better.
I remember the joy on his face when I told him I was interested in learning more about cricket—the game that has always been his passion. He rewarded my interest by taking me to the stadium to see a cricket match in action. I remember seeing another side of my usually calm and soft-spoken father that day. As a cricket-obsessed fan, he had a hard time sitting still in his seat as the team he supported demolished the opposition. I learned from him that when you are passionate about something, you should go ahead and express it without worrying about what anyone else says.
I remember him helping me with science and geography through school, and making them both interesting with real-life applications. He couldn’t stand rote learning and insisted that I be actively engaged and understand what I was learning. It was onerous at that time to follow his advice; I was convinced that learning by rote would be a lot faster and easier. But, thanks to him, I learned how to learn at a young age.
I remember my father and my mother telling me to never let the fact that I was a girl restrict my dreams and aspirations. Though my parents hid them well, I was aware of the personal sacrifices they made to make sure that my sisters and I had the best opportunities.
My father is also the one who showed me the softer side of men. Funnily enough, I saw that side of him during melodramatic Hindi movies, where the plot often revolved around long-lost siblings or separated families reunited at the climax. While my sisters and I would laugh at the predictability of the plot or the overacting of the cast, my father, softhearted man that he is, would shed an emotional tear.
I saw my father’s moist eyes at my wedding, too, as he gave my hand to my husband and said, “Take care of her. She’s very special to me.” My husband insists that he also heard my father whisper “…or else!” to him in a threatening tone, but to me, my father has always been the gentlest, kindest man.
Even today, when I speak with my father, he always tells me how special I am to him and how proud he is of me. Whenever I am feeling low or unsure of myself, he reminds me of his unconditional love and support. I am still his princess.
On many mornings, I see my husband tie our six-year-old daughter’s shoelaces and struggle with brushing her long hair. If I could grant my daughter one wish in the world this Father’s Day, it would be for her to always be Daddy’s Little Princess. She’ll be able to take on the world with Daddy behind her. I know that from my own experience.